Top Line: Time to buy low on Del Zotto?; most hated teams; more news
An annotated guide to this morning's must-read hockey stories:
• With the off-season dragging on, it's surprising that Michael Del Zotto, formerly of the Rangers and the Predators, remains unsigned. The free-agent defenseman is just 24 and not far removed from a 41-point season in 2011–12. So what gives? Well, for starters, Del Zotto struggled mightily in his own zone last year with Nashville and had only 16 points in 67 games. Everybody's entitled to one bad season, and provided last year was a one-off it might be a good time for somebody to buy low on a talented player.
• Kukla's Korner has some maps that break down the most hated NHL teams by region. There's a map for U.S. states, a map for Canada and a map of the world. I guess I can accept that the Bruins are the most hated team in Asia (and just about everywhere else that hockey is played), but why does South America loathe the Canadiens? And, more curiously, what is the source of Africa's beef with the Jets?
• One problem often associated with fancy stats is that the numbers are without context. Well, if it's context you want, we've got plenty right here: Computer tracking of players on the ice is coming soon, and it's going to be awesome. Or something. Anyway, it looks cool.
• Tyler Dellow, a hockey analytics blogger, is reportedly joining the Oilers, presumably to lend his expertise to the Edmonton's ongoing rebuilding project.
• You know advanced statistics are becoming more accepted around the league when a team like the Blue Jackets includes a primer on its website that explains what analytics are and how teams use them.
• Speaking of Columbus, Sonny Milano, who the team took with the 16th pick in the 2014 draft, has announced that he will play for Boston College next season. There had been some speculation that the 18-year-old winger might pass on college hockey and play for the Plymouth Whalers, the OHL team that owns his rights.
• Connor McDavid had to sit on his hands as he watched many of his peers get drafted earlier this summer. His turn is coming soon, but the likely No. 1 pick in 2015 still has one more season left to play with the Erie Otters of the OHL.
• Meanwhile, will Aaron Ekblad, the No. 1 pick in 2014, be in the playoffs next spring? The Panthers have been to the postseason just once since 2000–01 (and only four times since their expansion season in ’93–94). But at least one person thinks that Florida has what it takes to play more that 82 games.
• National junior evaluation camps are underway in both the U.S. and Canada, and Team USA has already announced 15 cuts.